There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are content to sit back and let their favorite TV shows surprise them, and those who have to predict and anticipate every twist before it happens. While a good portion of the fanbase of USA's Mr. Robot may have genuinely been shocked by the revelation that our protagonist Elliot Alderson had been in prison for the entire first half of the second season, just as many fans had figured it out well ahead of time — as early as the Season 2 premiere, in fact. Now, with the Season 2 finale just around the corner, people are furiously trying to predict what will happen on the show this Wednesday night… and beyond. But this one Mr. Robot Season 3 theory may have already figured out the entire future of the acclaimed drama.
Many viewers have been looking for clues in Mr. Robot 's ample use of classic cinema references, from the Fight Club-esque revelation that the title character existed only inside the protagonist's head to the Inception-like trick of nestling hallucinations within hallucinations this year. Other theorists have found inspiration in films as varied as Taxi Driver, American Psycho, and Blade Runner. But Reddit user Zchmhssn89 found inspiration for his mind-blowing theory in another place entirely: cancer.
This theory emerged from widespread speculation about what "Stage 2" of the plan concocted by the Dark Army and Mr. Robot might consist of. For most people, "Stage 2" simply sounds like a term used to describe the next step of a master plan; but this particular Reddit user noted the similarity to cancer terminology. Cancer is already a central element to the plot of Mr. Robot: both Elliot's and Darlene's father and Angela's mother contracted the disease while working for E Corp and passed away when they were young. The loss of their father is what has driven Elliot and Darlene to seek revenge against the corporation under the guise of FSociety.
Given the importance of cancer to the story of Mr. Robot and the prevalent use of the phrase "Stage 2," it's not a stretch to think of the disease as a metaphor for the show itself. As Zchmhssn89 points out, cancer has four stages. In Stage 1, the tumor is completely localized, situated on one organ — just as how in Season 1, FSociety's hack was targeted specifically against ECorp. In Stage 2, the tumor begins to grow into the nearby tissue — just as how in Season 2, the effects of FSociety's hack have spread to start affecting things like currency (ECoin) and infrastructure (brownouts).
So what does that mean for the future of the show? By Stage 3, the tumor has grown quite large and has spread throughout the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes, according to Cancer Research UK. In Season 3, as Reddit user Zchmhssn89's theory goes, "With the physical infrastructure in disrepair … societal structure will begin to crumble as what little faith the citizens have in their government begins to dissipate, unable to even get their rations for food. Once the infrastructure collapses, it will be a sign that the lymph nodes have carried the cancer to the rest of the body."
Per Cancer Research UK, Stage 4 — also known as metastatic cancer — then follows, in which the tumor has grown large enough to spread to other organs throughout the body. That means that by Season 4, "the chances of survival are slim. The cancer that Elliot created will have killed the system. … At that point a new system can be introduced, likely one of which the Dark Army would want to be authors. This new system will be seen as a salvation, a bright light after the dark shroud of the death of society," according to Zchmhssn89.
Not only is this a particularly resonant metaphor, given Elliot's tragic past, but it also fits with what little we already know about the future of Mr. Robot. Last summer, creator Sam Esmail tweeted that, "I have an ending and it's about 4 or 5 seasons away." If Mr. Robot ends up running for five years, that's one season for each stage of cancer and then one final season for the official "death" (and possible rebirth?) of society.
If this theory pans out, then don't expect anything to get better anytime soon; things will be worse than ever in Season 3. Once it becomes clear that the bailout ECorp received isn't enough — aka the "chemo" didn't take — and trash continues piling up in the streets and banks continuing failing, you can expect society to unravel even further. Elliot may have set out to save the world, but thanks to Mr. Robot's machinations with the Dark Army, it looks like he may end it instead. And wouldn't it be ironic if, in seeking revenge for his father's cancer, Elliot himself ended up spreading an incurable disease throughout the world?
Images: Michael Parmelee/USA (4)